As we have all heard, last week Facebook stepped into the search world. Honestly, I didn't know what to think when Zuckerberg announced, "Come see what we are building," but nonetheless, his vague tease worked and had me checking live coverage news feeds throughout the day. So it's here, we all knew it was going to happen but now that it has, what does it really mean for advertisers and users?
First thing to note is that Facebook's Graph Search is and will continue to roll out incredibly slowly. Mainly because they understand how big of an undertaking this is and how a misstep could hinder the process. Only a few lucky ones that jumped on invitation requests right after Zuckerberg announced the new feature have actually gotten to play with it, most are still waiting.
What we do know from Mark Zuckerberg's announcement is that the first phase of Graph Search will give search results based on people, photos, places and interests. That alone is pretty powerful but when you think of all the additional information that could be used to give users answers, Facebook could become a powerhouse. While Google has an infinite database of information and targeting genius, Facebook has an incredible amount of behavioral data, not to mention, over a billion users! If executed correctly, more time will be spent on Facebook searching than on Google, which opens an opportunity for an increase in ad spend on Facebook and that, my friends, could be the factor that truly hurts Google.
There has been lots of chatter over the last week about whether or not Graph Search is a big deal or not. I think it's too early to tell and certainly too early to judge. This search feature that Zuckerberg has created (and will continue to roll out new features to) isn't like anything we have seen yet. This is not what we know as "web search", this is a new format of search results from data we have never been able to have at our fingertips. The results could be astonishing and truly change the way we search for information on the internet.
As a Facebook user I am interested to see what the Graph Search can do but as a marketer, I am beside myself with excitement over the possibilities. Let alone being able to leverage Bing rankings and ads but now all the social interaction we have encouraged clients to implement will be repurposed and SEO will take on a new life.
As Facebook explains, “The search bar first returns the top search suggestions, including people, Pages, apps, places, groups, and suggested searches…People can search for things like restaurants near them, hotels in places they want to travel to, photos posted by Pages they like, or games that their friends like to play.” They also add, “These search suggestions take people to a unique results page…where the results returned are based on factors that include information that has been shared by your business and the connections of the person searching.”
The company has already issued guides on how to optimize your page for Graph Search including quick but necessary tips for the immediate which include bulking up your "About" section, making sure all contact information is added as well as accurate and work to truly interact with existing fans to increase connections.
It's also important to note that through the Graph Search, apps will become more discoverable. That's good news for developers. Rather than just relying on your app showing up by name or specific tags, they will also be able to be found when people look for "the app my friends who live in Charlotte use" or "puzzle games my friends play". Facebook stresses the importance now, more than ever, of making sure your app is correctly categorized and all details are up-to-date.
Sure, there are going to be people who protest this new feature of Facebook. There will be privacy concerns and other things, but the truth is this has the potential to be much more than just a feature of Facebook but rather a whole new chapter to the online experience.